Page 9

Off the rails

We should not be running trains through the centre of town


nyone who lives in Saskatoon knows one thing: trains running smack-dab through the centre of the city can be a real nuisance. You know what we’re talking about. If you’ve done any amount of driving in this city, chances are you’ve found yourself stuck for a

35 serious injuries every year. Those are no small numbers, any way you want to slice it. Lac-Mégantic is of course the most prominent train disaster in recent memory, a tragedy that was magnified by the fact that when the train exploded it was rolling through the centre of town. But it

[Edmonton] turned their old CN Yards into a hub of economic activity, and filled them with a college, condos, lofts…

college, condos, lofts, student housings, stores and a farmer’s market. Winnipeg took a similar approach, and turned its old CN yards into The Forks, a bustling green space that features river walks, tourist attractions, an extensive market and more. Undertaking a similar enterprise wouldn’t only benefit our community from a development/ economic standpoint, it would also make our cities safer and rid us of the nuisance of waiting at a level crossing for the train to pass. Time and time again. These editorials are left unsigned because they represent the opinions of Verb magazine, not those of the individual writers.

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period of time at one of the numerous level crossings, watching the train cars as they pass. Waiting. Looking in your rear view mirror to see the line of traffic that has formed behind you. And chances are, while you were waiting, you were trying to get somewhere important. Like work. Or a meeting. Or an appointment. Yet there you are, stuck, watching the minutes tick by and cursing the train under your breath. We feel as though this problem has to be eradicated. Our city is growing, more people are moving about it every day, and frankly it seems counterintuitive that we still get hung up at level crossings. Which is why we propose that the rail yards and railways get relocated outside city limits, a move that will improve both safety and convenience for those living in Saskatoon. Because believe it or not, level crossings can be kind of dangerous. Between 2003 and 2012, there were 2,162 level crossing accidents in Canada on federally regulated railways. These accidents resulted in 266 deaths and more than 340 serious injuries. Ninety-four percent of said accidents involved a train and a motor vehicle. If you do the math, that’s an average of about 216 level crossing accidents, 27 deaths, and

is by no means the only example of a train causing mayhem. Last September 17 CN rail cars, carrying flammable petroleum, ethanol and other chemicals, derailed near Landis, Saskatchewan. In May, five cars on a CPR train derailed near Jansen, Saskatchewan, spilling more than 91,000 litres of oil. In April, 22 CPR train cars derailed near White River, Ontario, spilling 63,000 litres of oil. Luckily all these incidents occurred in rural settings and no one was injured. But still the risk is too high. Just imagine if one of those accidents occurred in the middle of our city — imagine if something like what happened in Lac-Mégantic happened here. It’s clear that we need to move the railways outside the city. And we’re not the only municipality that’s thought this. Places like Winnipeg and Surrey, B.C., have brought a similar idea to the table, and we should too. So what to do with the existing infrastructure. You only need to look to Edmonton to see how they addressed the issue in a creative way that also helps stimulate the economy and recoup some of the costs. The Alberta city turned their old CN Yards into a hub of economic activity, and filled them with a

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Verb Issue S273 (Jan. 17-23, 2014)  
Verb Issue S273 (Jan. 17-23, 2014)  

Verb Issue S273 (Jan. 17-23, 2014)